The 2020 Ronde was originally due to be 267km in length, as was the case in in 2019 when Alberto Bettiol emerged victorious, but the Tenbosse and Muur van Geraardsbergen have been excised from the revised route, which was confirmed on Friday. The new route includes the Valkenberg and is 241km in length.
“It’s a pity,” Naesen told Sporza. “In a race of 260 kilometres, you have to do your best just to be able to finish at the front. Those long races are really the only thing I can do well.”
Three of Naesen’s five professional wins have come in events of more than 200km in length – the Bretagne Classic in 2016 and 2018, and the 2017 Belgian Championships – while his powers of endurance also carried him to second place at the 2019 Milan-San Remo. Naesen maintains that the additional distance makes a huge difference to the list of contenders in a Monument.
“A rider who's the best over 200km won't necessarily win a 260km race, because that 200km limit exists,” Naesen said. “Sometimes after 198km, I see riders next to me on a climb and then 4km later they’ve come to a standstill.
“For me, these races are about the survival of the fittest. That's why I think it's a shame, although I might speak differently at the end of October.”
As well as reducing the Tour of Flanders to 241km, Flanders Classics has also reduced the distance of Gent-Wevelgem to 238km, cut De Brabantse Pijl to 184km and reduced Scheleprijs to 183km.
Some of the changes, such as the elimination of the crossing of the French border at Gent-Wevelgem, were introduced in light of the coronavirus pandemic that forced the postponement of the Classics from the spring. In a statement on Friday, Flanders Classics stated that it had also taken into consideration the compressed nature of the rearranged Autumn calendar.
“To provide the teams and riders with enough opportunity to rest between the races that will follow each other in rapid succession in October, Flanders Classics has decided, in consultation with various teams, to slightly shorten the distance of its races,” the organiser said.
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get The Leadout Newsletter
The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!
Cyclingnews is the world's leader in English-language coverage of professional cycling. Started in 1995 by University of Newcastle professor Bill Mitchell, the site was one of the first to provide breaking news and results over the internet in English. The site was purchased by Knapp Communications in 1999, and owner Gerard Knapp built it into the definitive voice of pro cycling. Since then, major publishing house Future PLC has owned the site and expanded it to include top features, news, results, photos and tech reporting. The site continues to be the most comprehensive and authoritative English voice in professional cycling.